Why do so many of us hold such negative thoughts and views towards therapy and counselors? An even more troubling question: why are we embarrassed to ask for help and tell others that we need it? I have always been a huge advocate for reaching out for help when needed, but this semester I took the time to really work on myself, for myself, and I will never look back.
I think it is important for students to know what types of resources are available to them on this campus, as well as off. I have never been to counseling outside of WIU, but having went to our on-campus counseling this semester, I have experienced nothing but improvement. I have attended both one-on-one counseling and I also joined a therapy group for this particular semester. There are a variety to choose from.
Therapy is hard. You have to consciously work on yourself while you are meeting with your counselor, but also during the days you are not meeting. I think this fact turns people off from going, but it is the most rewarding experience to be able to grow emotionally. Many of us have upbringings or even genetics that make us predisposed to mental illnesses.
Not only would mental illnesses steer us in the direction of therapy, but just having a professional to sort one’s thoughts out with is incredibly helpful. Personally, there were many things I was doing in regards to my emotions that were holding me back in my relationships and friendships, as well as my individual growth. I was also reacting to situations of stress and hardship in very negative ways. These are problems I have been able to overcome because of counseling.
Our counselors are extremely well-educated and experienced. Mine was kind and intelligent, but also straightforward and honest: something that I, personally, benefitted from. There are many other counselors who are equipped to help students with various personalities. I highly recommend the University Counseling Center in Memorial Hall. Taking that step and going in to make an appointment in December changed my life completely.
I would like to also encourage those of us who are unsure about counseling to never shame someone for going. In my experiences, nothing negative has come from getting help. It was one of the best decisions I made in my life, not just during college. We should all take advantage of the resources WIU offers, including counseling if you feel this is something you may benefit from. It is free to all students.
If counseling may be something you are unsure about, perhaps try a stress management class. This semester I chose to take this class. It is a course that is typically taught by a graduate student in the Kinesiology department, so it is very relaxed. Many students take this class simply because we are all required to have at least one credit in this department, but I feel like I have been able to take many of our lectures and apply the concepts we have learned to my everyday life. I can honestly see and feel a difference in the way I react to stressful situations and how I handle them after the fact.
I learned effective ways to meditate, journal, breathe, and many other things. These are all tools I can use each day for the remainder of my life to make dealing with stress a little bit easier. Many of my problems I dealt with in counseling came from my reactions to and experiences with stress. This class brought my healing full circle this semester.
The main point of this article is to encourage others to reach out and accept help. Also, never be ashamed or shame others for needing help. We all need help at times, and we all can grow more emotionally. Stress is difficult to handle at any time in life. There are resources on campus available to help us. Take advantage of them. I did, and I do not even recognize myself some days because I have made so many positive changes in my life.
This article was written by Courtney Dalton and originally published in the Western Courier.